The Five Waves of Trust

The First Wave: Self Trust

The first wave, Self Trust, deals with the confidence we have in ourselves – in our ability to set and achieve goals, to keep commitments, to walk our talk – and also with our ability to inspire trust in others. The whole idea is to become, both to ourselves and to others, a person who is worthy of trust. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility, which comes from the Latin root credere, meaning “to believe.” In this first wave, we will explore the “4 Cores of Credibility,” where we will discuss ways to increase our credibility in order to firmly establish trust with ourselves and with others. The end result of high character and high competence is credibility, judgment, and influence. 

The Second Wave: Relationship Trust

The second wave, Relationship Trust, is about how to establish and increase the “trust accounts” we have with others. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior, and in this section, we will discuss 13 key behaviors common to high-trust leaders around the world. These behaviors are based on the principles that govern trust in relationships. They are practitioner-based and validated by research. Most exciting is the fact that these 13 behaviors can be learned and applied by any individual at any level within any organization, including the family. The net result is a significantly increased ability to generate trust with all involved in order to enhance relationships and achieve better results.

The Third Wave: Organizational Trust

The third wave, Organizational Trust, deals with how leaders can generate trust in all kinds of organizations, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, government entities, educational institutions, and families, as well as in teams and other microunits within organizations. If you’ve ever worked with people you trusted – but in an organization you didn’t – or in a situation where the organization’s systems and structures promoted distrust, you will easily recognize the critical nature of the third wave. The key principle underlying this wave, alignment, helps leaders create structures, systems, and symbols of organizational trust that decrease or eliminate seven of the most insidious and costly organizational trust taxes, and create seven huge organizational trust dividends. 

The Fourth Wave: Market Trust

The fourth wave, Market Trust, is the level at which almost everyone clearly understands the impact of trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation. It’s about your company brand (as well as your personal brand), which reflects the trust customers, investors, and others in the marketplace have in you. Everyone knows that brands powerfully affect customer behavior and loyalty. When there is a high-trust brand, customers buy more, refer more, give the benefit of the doubt, and stay with you longer. This material will help you not only improve your own brand and reputation as an individual, it will also help you improve your organization’s brand and reputation in the marketplace.

The Fifth Wave: Societal Trust

The fifth wave, Societal Trust, is about creating value for others and for society at large. The principle underlying this wave is contribution. By contributing or “giving back,” we counteract the suspicion, cynicism, and low-trust inheritance taxes within our society. We also inspire others to create value and contribute, as well. 
From “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything” by Stephen M. R. Covey